Sunday, May 29, 2011

Biblical Baptism

After church today someone asked me about being baptized. Perhaps this post will help answer many questions people may have about this important issue.

Our church has a large number of people who did not grow up going to church on a regular basis. As a result, many people who come to our church do not know much about one of the most basic pieces of theology, that of baptism. Since baptism is such an integral part of the Christian faith, followers of Christ need to gain a biblical understanding of it.

According to the New Testament, baptism is the way that Christians publicly proclaim their faith in Christ. It is a picture of how Christ died for us, was buried for us, and rose again for us. When we stand in the water we are saying that we are taking our stand for Christ. As we are dipped under the water it symbolizes us dying and being buried to our old way of life. When we come up out of the water it symbolizes how we are raised to new life through our faith in Christ.

Baptism does not give us salvation, instead it demonstrates to others that we have already been saved from our sin and have made the choice to be a Christian. The New Testament makes it very clear that every person who has trusted Jesus as their Savior and made a commitment to follow Him should be baptized after making that decision. Obviously, if a person has never been baptized at all, then it makes sense that they would be baptized after they make a sincere commitment to Christ. If we realize we are in this category, we should pray about getting baptized right away out of obedience and devotion to Christ. It will enhance our connection to God and improve our personal spirituality.

Sometimes people were baptized by their parents before they were old enough to understand what it was all about. While that is a very lovely ceremony to watch, we cannot find any examples in the Bible of an infant or small child being baptized. In the Bible, people were baptized only AFTER they made a deep and sincere commitment to Jesus Christ. When people who were baptized by their parents finally make the choice for themselves to become Christians, they should bet re-baptized as a testimony of their own faith. It does not mean they do not appreciate what their parents did for them, nor does it "undo" their previous baptism, it simply means that now they are making this decision for themselves. Parents should rejoice that their children have come to a place of committed faith in Christ and support them in their own faith decision.

While there is no specific age that a person has to be baptized, I often recommend that children wait until they are at least 13 years of age in order to ensure they really understand what they are doing. Though I have baptized children as young as ten on rare occasions when they were able to clearly articulate their faith, I often recommend to young people that they wait until they turn 13. I have also baptized people as old as 89 years old because it took them that many years to really be ready to take this important step of faith. The "perfect" age is whenever a person is spiritually and emotionally mature enough to think this through this issue on their own and come to this conclusion for themselves without being pressured by their parents or peers.

There is something spiritually uplifting about being baptized. It gives us a sense of spiritual cleansing. It makes us feel closer to God. It is also a step of obedience to God, since He is the one who commanded us to be baptized after we trust Christ as our Saviour.

The next opportunity to be baptized at Faith Community Church is June 5, 2011 at 10 AM. If you want to be baptized, you need to set up an appointment this week to talk to me about it. Once we are both confident that you understand what baptism means, I would consider it an honor to baptize you. If you have not yet been baptized in the way the Bible teaches, make it a matter of prayer and then respond as the Holy Spirit leads.

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